Proteolytic processing and membrane association of putative nonstructural proteins of hepatitis C virus

M. Hijikata, H. Mizushima, Y. Tanji, Y. Komoda, Y. Hirowatari, T. Akagi, N. Kato, K. Kimura, K. Shimotohno

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72 Citations (Scopus)


By using a plasmid-based transient protein expression system in cultured cells and an in vitro transcription/translation system, we analyzed the proteolytic processing of the putative nonstructural protein region of the precursor polyprotein from a Japanese type of hepatitis C virus. In addition to the previously reported viral proteins, p21 and p70, we identified products of 4 kDa (p4), 27 kDa (p27), 56 kDa (p56), 58 kDa (p58), and 66 kDa (p66). These products were produced in a viral serine proteinase (proteinase 2)-dependent manner from the region downstream of p70 in the precursor polyprotein and were arranged as NH2-p70-p4-p27-p58(p56)-p66-COOH as determined with region-specific antibodies. We showed that p56 was an N- terminally truncated form of p58, which suggested that a small polypeptide of 2 kDa (p2) was produced from the N-terminal part of p58. Cleavage between p4 and p27 was inefficient in vitro and we saw the 31-kDa precursor polypeptide (p31) accumulate. Furthermore, efficient cleavage at this site in vivo required the presence of p58/p56. Immunoprecipitation analysis in vitro also suggested the mutual interaction of those nonstructural protein products. An especially close association of p4 with p70 may contribute to association of p70 with microsomal membranes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10773-10777
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • RNA virus
  • serine proteinase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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